Unlike other garments, tights are conveniently classified by their material thickness, which is specified in the unit of measurement denier, or DEN for short. But what denier do tights come in and which denier levels are really opaque? We will show you what do different denier tights look like and what DEN is best to wear in each season, for the office or a night out.
What does denier mean?
DEN (abbreviation for the French denier) is used to indicate the thickness of the material. Apart from tights, this unit of measurement is nowadays only used for motorcycle clothing or horse blankets. Roughly speaking, the lower the DEN number, the thinner the thighs. The numbers are not chosen arbitrarily but represent the weight in grams that a thread has per 9,000 meters of length. For example, a 50 DEN tights weigh 50 g/ 9,000 meters. Fortunately, you don’t have to do any complicated calculations when choosing your tights, you just have to know how each DEN looks like and which DEN number is suitable for which temperature.
The most popular tights include thin tights in 20 DEN, semi-opaque in 40 DEN, and opaque for colder days in 80 DEN. In between there are many other variations that make it possible to choose the perfect tights for really every season.
8 – 10 Denier: Perfect tights for the summer
In special stores you can even find ultra-fine tights with only 5 DEN, but usually, it starts from 8-10 DEN. Even in this thickness the material is so thin that the tights are only visible on your legs when you look very closely. With 8 and 10DEN tights you just make your legs look a little more flawless – like with a balancing foundation. Tights with this low denier are only suitable for the summer, as they are not warm. They can even have a slight cooling effect and protect against chafing thighs. However, you should always think about using sunscreen with these, as the thin material does not provide sufficient protection. You should also be careful when putting on this type of hosiery: Experts even recommend wearing gloves. Tights with 10 DEN or less have a short life span and often do not survive more than one to three uses.
Example: 8 DEN tights in anthracite (colors are barely visible with 8 DEN)
12 – 20 Denier: Sheer tights for spring and summer
Tights in 15 and 20 denier are the most common options if you prefer a barely visible and thin material. This thickness is especially suitable for nude tights, which will make your legs look flawless. However, liver spots, tattoos and leg hairs are visible through the thin fabric. The 20 DEN tights are perfect for the office on warm days. If handled carefully, they should survive being worn a few times. But these models are not made to last either, because runnings can quickly occur.
What denier tights to wear with black dress? Opt for 20 DEN in Nude color
30 Denier: Sheer tights for cooler days
The 30 DEN tights are the best compromise between a sheer and an opaque version. In this thickness both nude shades and black look good. Black tights with this denier number do not look very opaque, but let your skin tone shine through.
40 – 50 Denier: Semi-opaque tights
Tights in 40 and 50 DEN are not yet considered opaque. Especially at the knees, the skin still shimmers through. 40 denier tights are warm and already suitable for autumn, winter, and cooler spring days. With this denier number, nude tones no longer look so natural and can quickly appear a bit “grandma-like”. Colorful or black shades are the better choice for 40 and 50 DEN. But watch out: If you don’t want to show off your hairy legs, you should wear opaque tights.
Semi-opaque black 40 denier tights
Example: Semi-opaque 50 DEN tights in dark blue
60 – 80 Denier: Opaque warm tights
From 60 DEN upwards, tights are considered opaque. These thicker models are the best and warmest choice if you still want fine tights made of microfibres such as nylon, lycra or elastane. 60 DEN tights are perfect for the office and party outfits in autumn and winter. The thick models are quite run-resistant and can also cover moles and hair. However, darker tattoos can still shine through easily.
Example: 60 DEN opaque tights in Red
Example: Super opaque 80 DEN tights in Black for winter
100 denier and higher: thermal, knitted and support tights
Starting at 100 DEN, tights are really absolutely opaque – even on the knees. These models are perfect if you want to wear dresses and skirts in winter as well. But because of the thicker fabric, these tights almost look more like leggings. This is also the best way to cover tattoos completely.
Example: Blackout opaque 120 DEN tights in black
Note on sustainability: If you also pay attention to sustainability when it comes to clothing, you should preferably use tights from 40 DEN. Even with careful handling and handwashing, models with a lower density are disposable products. Since most tights are not made of biodegradable materials, they represent an environmental burden.
Glossy or matt: Which is better?
With tights, you can choose not only the DEN number and color but also the finish. Nowadays, most people prefer matt tights because they look especially natural. These models are best suited to hide small blemishes and make your legs look slimmer – especially in darker colors. Because they don’t draw attention to your legs, they are the best choice for office outfits.
However, if you want to draw attention to your legs, you should go for glossy hosiery. These tights make your legs look as if you have oiled yourself after depilation – at least in the nude version. They emphasize your curves and leg muscles and are perfect if you want to feel sexy. On the other hand, if you don’t like the completely matte or very shiny look, you should go for tights with a satin finish: This version both conceals and emphasizes at the same time.
Best denier tights for night out